You don’t always remember your first meeting with a person. That was not the case with K Ramkumar. I remember when and where I met him. Why do you remember the first meeting with somebody and don’t remember that with others may be a matter for the Freud’s followers to think about. A layman [read: me] would suggest that the person instantly vibes with you; that’s why! [Elementary, my dear Watson!!]
I met Ramkumar [Ram] at a small gathering where Anu Aga spoke followed by Arun Maira. Ram was sitting next to me in the audience. I had heard about him but had never met. We exchanged notes. He said he began his career with Hindustan Aeronautics, then to Hindustan Lever [as it then was], ICI and then ICICI. I pointed out the common words in the organisations he worked for and we both had a good laugh. It makes you feel as if his career progressed from one organisation to another smoothly and continuously. You are certainly not wrong in that conclusion.
The interesting point is that his employer changed, so did his roles but Ram didn’t; I mean it in good sense, Ram remained as authentic as ever. You always spoke to Ram, not to Vice President or Executive Director, his roles. It is not only his well-articulated views on any subject that people love, it is not just his ‘calling-spade-a-spade’ style that people enjoy, it is always his authentic persona that his friends and well-wishers love.
Reaching Ramkumar became a nightmare for me when he moved to the top notch of the ladder, not because of the person he is, but when you get appointed as Exec Director of a huge corporation, the staff acts as traffic police, or censor board! Send a mail and they intervene to save mundane worries to their boss! I stopped reaching out to him. But I discovered that Ram was oblivious of this situation when I met him at NIPM’s Naval Tata Memorial Lecture at Indian Merchants Chamber on Aug 30, 2016. We chatted briefly there and revived the old friendship.
The Naval Tata Memorial Lecture was truly an inspired piece of oratory. A good orator is one who speaks on the subject he is passionate about! He beams with confidence and one would even say that he ‘glows.’ Those subjects bring out the best in the speaker. In the case of Ram, it is about the subject of practising long cherished values. When he is speaking on that subject he resembles Sehwag in full flow who outshines even Sachin then [there was no Sachin there at the event!]. It is a matter of regret that NIPM no longer publishes Naval Tata Memorial speeches, they used to publish them earlier.
Not all in HR profession appreciate Ram, and I do not belong to that clan. Those who are not accustomed to ‘audi alterem partem’ [hear the other party] way of life will find a well-argued alternate viewpoint uncomfortable, and Ram’s candour does not help make things easy. But those who enjoy it, will be seen appreciating, nodding their head, because his views are not just comprehensive, they are also culled out of experience.
I asked Ram if he would agree to record videos for me. He readily agreed. I recorded two videos. The first one is about ‘Meritocracy’ a much talked about and yet much misunderstood subject. The second is about ‘Challenges Before HR.’ Enjoy watching the videos.
Challenges Before HR
Vivek S Patwardhan
Very impromptu and yet insightful perspective sharing. This video blog is a wonderful idea. Thank you for the efforts in getting this for us! Enjoyed watching and listening the blog 🙂
i am open to publish his speech in BM if possible.At least we can do this to the profession by documenting his insights on contemporary subject.
Dear Mr. Patwardhan
People like you have inspired me in my professonal journey. In a way I have always asked the question to myself whether you all would approve of something or not.
It was my honour to have at our office yesterday.
I am very touched and moved by your note. I will try to live up to this expectation of yours during the rset of my life.
T S Ramanathan / 1-14-2017
Very useful insights on Meritocracy and HR challenges shared by a person who has spent his lifetime in the profession. Thank you Mr. Patwardhan for sharing this blog….
More comments from HR Gurus:
1. Dr Zahid Gangjee says:
REALLY enjoyed your write up on Ram. I agree with what you have written – that’s how he & I have remained friends for so many years.
Your love & acceptance of Ram has relaxed him so that he has spoken so clearly in both videos. (He was always logical & deep thinking).
I am sending your link with the two videos to 2 CEOs & 1 Chief of HR. I know you would like to spread the good word.
Lots of love
2. Dr S Chandrasekhar says:
I am glad you write about Ram and put up his talks. He is clearly one of our no-nonsense and fearless HR leaders. I endorse your views.
In upholding and recognizing people with right values – YOU grow in our admiration.
President & Global Head of HR, Dr Reddy’s
3. Steve Correa says:
The video blogs are a great idea. More so, the content from Ram was very good.
4. Karthik Ganesh says:
Very interesting blog sir !
Thanks for sharing. He is always an engaging speaker.
Thanks for sharing the two video’s on K Ramkumar’s Views.
I had heard him speak at NIPM Naval Taa Memorial Lecture on 30 August 2016 where he delivered a brilliant talk citing case examples.
(Dr. Rajen Mehrotra)
You have always kept your blogs lively with your inimitable style of writing. Now with these video blogs you have taken it to the next level.
I particularly liked Ram’s talk on meritocracy and his point about HR folks believing in their self-worth!